If you are traveling up from the South, you will likely be passing through Sikeston, Missouri (about 45 miles South of Cape Girardeau -- located between Interstates 55 and 57). Sikeston has one of my favorite restaurants in the region -- Lambert's Cafe -- Home of Throwed Rolls
Among the sights that I would recommend is Fort Defiance Park in Cairo, Illinois
. This park may be some worse for wear following the Spring floods, but it affords a spectacular view of the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Cairo is also home to Shemwell's Barbecue
, and they serve a very popular pork barbecue sandwich with a spectacular home-made sauce and cabbage chow (if desired).
Just to the North of Cairo, you will encounter Mound City; home to Mound City National Cemetery
where you will find the final resting place of soldiers dating back to the Civil War.
Not quite on the route, but a place to see if you are a Superman
fan is Metropolis, IL about 45 minute Northeast of Cairo. The town defintely has the flavor of the mythical Metropolis of the comic book and movie series.
When heading North from Cairo, IL or East from Cape Girardeau, MO; you will pass near or through Jonesboro, IL. Jonesboro is the county seat of Union County, IL and was also home to one of the Lincoln--Douglas Debates
. The park where the debate took place is a pleasant place to visit and has historical markers commemorating the debate. Jonesboro is also home to my favorite local barbecue, Dixie Barbecue
where they feature hickory-smoked pork barbecue with their own home-made sauce.
Anna, IL is the community immediately adjacent to Jonesboro, and along its Main Street (IL 146) you will find several homes dating to the Civil War era as well as the home where Lincoln stayed the evening prior to the debate. Also, for World War II buffs, Anna is also home to the burial site of King Neptune
the pig that was repeatedly auctioned off to raise funds at war bond rallies during World War II.
To the North of Jonesbor, you will find the picturesque community of Alto Pass; home to the Bald Knob Cross of Peace
. This spectacular porcelain-enamel-clad cross rises above the Southern Illinois countryside on one of the highest points in the Southern part of the state. The cross was conceived in 1937 by Wayman Presely and the Reverend W. H. Lirely, and they were instrumental in promoting the building of the structure through donations from listeners to a nation-wide radio broadcast as well as from many residents of the region. The cross has just completed a major restoration project that returned it to its original glory. The cross is truly something I would suggest seeing (about 90 minutes South of DuQuoin).
A few miles to the North of Cairo (about an hour South of DuQuoin), you will find Makanda, Illinois; home to Giant City State Park and Lodge
. Giant City Lodge
is well known for its Southern Fried Chicken as well as Chicken and Dumplings served family style every day of the week. The park is very rugged with some wonderful hiking trails as well as some favored rock climbing area.
Something that is completely off of the route that you are planning, but might be of interest is Popeye's Hometown
in Chester, IL. Chester is the hometown of the creator of the Popeye comic strip, and the evidence of the town's attachment to this character can be seen everywhere.
Another attraction that is somewhat off of your route that would be of interest to those who like to bicycle on well-maintained trails, is the Tunnel Hill State Bicycle Trail
in Vienna, IL.
One suggestion that I will make, is to come prepared for hot, humid weather. We have had heat indexes over 100 degrees three days this week already and it appears that this pattern is expected to continue well into the future. We have had some rather severe Spring flooding so some attractions may not be totally accessible. IL route 3 from Cape Girardeau to Ware, IL is in an area prone to seep water so you are likely to see some high water -- and be prepared for some construction delays between Cape Girardeau and McClure, IL. You will encounter less construction and less high water if you switch over to Interstate 57 at Sikeston, MO.
Enjoy your excursion! This year, I will only be traveling 60 miles -- shortest distance yet to attend an International Rally.